A major article in today's Wall Street Journal has the front page headline, "The Drugs That Power Tech: Ketamine, LSD, Mushrooms." Authors Kristin Grind and Katherine Bindley are apparently convinced that the smartest, richest people in the world are all about psychedelics these days. Many seem to believe this is the key to creativity and insight that can enable them to flourish, prosper, and improve the world.
They couldn't be more wrong, more horribly confused about themselves and the world. And the drugs will make their confusion much worse.
About three quarters of a century ago, Albert Hoffman's "problem child" LSD began to have its impact on Western culture. The smartest, richest people in the world at that time also believed this could be a sea change for humanity. What developed, most notably, was some fantastic music from 1964 to 1967 and some ugly violence from 1968 to 1975. But there were neither miracles nor armageddon; evolution didn't stop or leap furiously ahead, it was a wash.
John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison died pretty soon; so did Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, Adelle Davis and Joly West. It took about a quarter of a century for America to renounce the bullshit, and then forget that it had been bullshit. Morrison's grave at Père Lachaise, the dog-eared copies of Let's Get Well and Exploring Inner Space on my bookshelf, are remnants and obscure reminders.
History is interesting, but most of all for purposes of non-repetition. We do repeat history though. We don't learn much, and that's because of our horrible confusion about ourselves and the world.
The final sentence in today's Wall Street Journal article is instructive. It says people are clamoring for psychedelic drugs because this is a time when they are looking for ways to feel like their lives matter. And that's the utter inanity arrived at with almost 110 column-inches in the most widely circulated daily newspaper in these United States, folks!
Of course people look for ways their lives matter! But a much better way to say what is meant by that might be that people look for (actually dream up) interesting things to create, and they like other people.
What does it mean that someone's life matters? It's about what that person has done, what they have said, what effect they have created on other people. That's what someone's life is. A life that matters is not a period of years during which an identifiable human body, with a particular name, ate and moved. Your body, of which your brain is just a part, doesn't matter. That biological machine just won't ever count for much. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, with brain as with skin, or liver, no matter what drug anybody ever took.
A person matters. But a person is not their brain or any other mere piece of their body. Thinking that a brain drug might save or glorify a person is simply nonsense. As I read history, it was well proven to be nonsense between 1945 and 1975, in no small part by LSD.
Rick Doblin's psychedelic renaissance, and James Corcoran's medical specialty, are divergent sects within the same silly, failed religion. But that religion will never enable people to feel like their lives matter.